Three Clinton Hill high schoolers performed on the famed stage of “Hamilton” on June 5, before an audience of fellow students from 23 schools from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, and blowing them all away.
The three young thespians from the Brooklyn Community Arts and Media High School wrote their way onto the stage of the Richard Rogers Theater on Broadway. Makhi Clemons, Rafael De La Cruz, and Nevaeh Nieves, found out a few weeks ago that they had been chosen for the musical convention, and they worked non-stop to create a touching musical tribute to African American revolutionaries, performed to the music of the “Hamilton” song “The Story of Tonight.”
“We decided to write a song about the African Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War, because we don’t really hear much about them, and their contributions,” said Clemons. “So, we decided to dedicate a song to their stories.”
It was a long process researching the stories and putting them to music, said one of the performers.
“We were very shocked and ecstatic when we heard about it. We had a whole host of emotions,” said De La Cruz. “We read stories, and then we put them together one by one. And we focused on how they affected this community.”
Teenage ensembles from a dozen other high schools also took their shot at “Hamilton” inspired musical numbers at the event, which was organized by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, an educational group that has teamed up with the beloved Broadway musical.
After the student performances, members of the “Hamilton” cast took questions from the young, scrappy, and hungry audience.
“The number one thing is that you have to believe in yourself,” said Terrence Spencer, who plays duelist George Eacker in the show. “You have to know that you can get here, no matter what show you want to be in. Study and learn everything that you can, and fully believe in yourself.”
One cast member offered her personal story of self-doubt, urging the students not to throw away their shots.
“Still to this day, I can doubt myself, but I’m just going to continue to do what I love and devote my life to that, and no matter what I will be happy doing it, whether I make it or not,” said Christina Glur.
— Aidan Graham